(WSVN) - The race is on to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and hopes are high one may be approved for emergency use within the next six months, but is the federal government rushing the process? 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
David Kent, taking part in vaccine trial: “Here we go.”
David Kent is giving it a shot. The Oakland Park resident is participating in clinical trials for what could be the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by the federal government.
David Kent: “Somebody’s got to. Somebody’s actually got to step forward.”
Thirty-thousand Americans across the country have stepped forward. They are all testing a vaccine being developed by biotech giant Moderna and the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health.
Researchers say it’s one of the most promising vaccines being studied.
Eighty-three-year-old Dolores Trubinski of Coconut Creek is also getting the shot.
Dolores Trubinski: “My children said, ‘Are you crazy? Do you know things could happen to you?'” I said, ‘Why not me?’ I’m for humanity. I just think of humanity.”
To make sure there are no adverse reactions to the injections, Dolores and David will return three times this month to Research Centers of America. It’s a lab in Oakland Park that administers clinical trials.
Dr. Howard Schwartz, Research Centers of America: “To date, fortunately, we haven’t really seen any significant side effects.”
Dr. Howard Schwartz has helped in some 1,000 clinical trials, but he says the trials happening here for the Moderna vaccine and two other COVID vaccines are unlike any other.
Dr. Howard Schwartz: “Operation Warp Speed is like nothing we’ve seen before.”
Operation Warp Speed is the federal government’s nearly $10 billion effort to have at least one proven safe vaccine by the start of 2021.
Dr. Howard Schwartz: “As in everything that’s done with regulation, it takes time, and so some of those timelines have been somewhat shortened. For example, when we enroll people in a trial, if we were going to enroll 300 to 400 individuals in a trial, it may occur over six months. Over here, that’s probably going to occur over 60 days.”
Participants like Dolores and David are usually monitored for several years before approval, but given the impact of the pandemic, the federal government has made finding a vaccine a priority. That means, after six months of collecting data, U.S. regulators might give emergency approval for the vaccine candidate.
Researchers worry how the public will react.
Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease specialist, Florida International University: “If you push it too fast for political reasons, you’re going to have people be skeptical of something that might actually turn out to be a safe and effective vaccine.”
Dr. Aileen Marty of FIU says a year’s worth of data would definitely be better, but she also believes in doctors like Anthony Fauci, who are leading the way in the fight against COVID.
Dr. Aileen Marty: “If, in fact, we have no significant negative complications after six months in a substantial number of well spread out, different demographics, that we may, by January or February, have a vaccine we could possibly give to our population. I’m very optimistic, but again, we have to wait.”
David is optimistic, too.
David Kent: “One small shot for me, one big shot for mankind.”
He hopes his participation leads to an end to this global pandemic.
The 7 Investigates team also reached out to Moderna. We never got a response, but the company has said it looks forward to demonstrating the potential of its vaccine candidate so the pandemic can be defeated.
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